UNF poll: Fried leads Crist in Democratic governor’s primary; cost of living a top concern of Florida voters

Poll shows Fried still 7 points behind incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new poll conducted by the Public Option Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida finds gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, ahead of former Gov. Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary -- but still seven points behind Republican incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis in a race among registered voters.

The poll consisted of a random sample of 1,624 registered Florida voters and was conducted Aug. 8 through Aug. 12. Registered Democrats were asked their choices in the Aug. 23 primary for governor and Senate.

In the governor’s race, 47% said they would vote for Fried, followed by 43% for Crist; Cadance Daniel and Robert Willis had 4% and 1%, respectively; 6% didn’t know or refused to answer.

“Fried seems to have reversed the eight-point lead that Crist had when we asked registered Democrats about vote choice in February,” Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and UNF professor of political science, said in a prepared statement. “It’s possible that the overturning of Roe v. Wade changed the make-up of this race, and has particularly energized women that are almost 20 points more likely to vote for her.”

The poll also asked registered voters, who indicated they’d vote in the general midterm, asked who they would vote for if the candidates were DeSantis and Fried.

Fifty percent of respondents said they would vote for DeSantis, with 43% indicating a vote for Fried, and 5% said they would vote for someone else. DeSantis also came out on top with 50% when asked the same question if the Democratic candidate was Crist, who had 42%, and 6% saying they would vote for someone else.

The poll shows that Val Demings came out on top in the head-to-head against Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate, with 48% indicating a vote for Demings and 44% for Rubio, with 7% saying they would vote for someone else.

“Fried and Crist are trailing behind DeSantis in head-to-heads,” Binder said in the UNF news release. “But both potential match-ups are much closer than they were when we polled registered voters in February, when DeSantis was up by over 20 percentage points. It is important to keep in mind that these are registered voters, and Republicans are generally more likely to turn out in November.”

Notably, registered Republicans were asked who they’d vote for in a hypothetical presidential primary in 2024 between DeSantis and former President Donald Trump. Of those respondents, 47% said they would vote for DeSantis and 45% for Trump; 7% said they would vote for someone else.

The cost of living

When asked what they think is the most important problem facing Florida today, 43% of respondents said the cost of living was the most pressing issue. Tied in a distant second place were education and abortion/reproductive rights, each with 8%.

The cost of living category was added to the poll.

“With record inflation this past year, it’s no wonder that Florida voters are concerned about the cost of living,” commented Binder. “Even with signs that inflation may begin to ease, cost of living in Florida does not appear to be improving anytime soon.”

Approval ratings

Respondents were asked about job approval for several federal and state officials. The poll found President Joe Biden has an approval rating of 38%, with 59% disapproving. The U.S. Supreme Court had similarly low approval, with 37% approving and 59% disapproving.

The results show Rubio and Rick Scott both fared no better, each with 37% approving.

The poll results show DeSantis had an approval rating of 50%, down from 58% in February of this year. Forty-five percent said they approve strongly of the job DeSantis is doing, while only 5% said they approve somewhat. Conversely, 41% said they strongly disapprove, with only 7% disapproving somewhat.

Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried had an approval rating of 40%, with 27% disapproving and 31% who don’t know.


Respondents were also asked about the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. When asked how the decision would impact their voting behavior, 51% said it made them more likely to vote in the November midterm election, 46% said it would not affect their decision to vote, and 3% said it would make them less likely to vote.